Top 10 Things to See and Do
1. Home to the third largest barrier reef in the world, the Turks and Caicos world class diving and snorkelling is one of its primary attractions. Explore the explosively colourful coral alongside eagle rays, turtles and even sharks, with one of the many professional diving outfits that operate across the islands.
2. For the opportunity to truly dig in to the culture and history of these unique islands, visit the Turks & Caicos national museum in the islands charming capital, Cockburn Town; containing eclectic displays of shell tools, stamps, beads and locks, some sections are devoted to life on the coral reef, while an upstairs gallery offers an excellent underwater display in 3D.
3. With a three mile long bay of glassy, electric-blue water studded with a haphazard smattering of tiny islets, Chalk Sound National Park is impossibly beautiful. A slim peninsula is fringed with snow-white sandy beaches, and a rocky hilltop on its eastern end boasts rock carvings dating back to the 19th century, as well as astonishing views over Chalk Sound.
4. With the majority of its islands uninhabited, Turks and Caicos has more than its fair share of pristine, paradise beaches, many of them virtually deserted; visit the irresistibly beautiful Grace Bay on Providencales (named Worlds Leading Beach several years running in the World Travel Awards), or strike out an discover your own island paradise. One things for certain: wherever you’re staying on Turks and Caicos, you will never be far from the stunning sandy coastline!
5. If you’re longing to explore Turks and Caicos colourful coral reef but don’t fancy the idea of getting wet, take a tour on the Undersea Explorer Semi Submarine. A glass bottom underwater observatory, it is a great way to view several different sections of the vibrant reef and its resident marine life; tours leave three times a day (10am, 12pm and 2pm) and tickets include a free pick up and drop of if you are staying at any hotel in the Grace Bay Area.
6. Every year between February and March, migrating humpback whales grace the shores of Turks and Caicos; several whale-watching operators offer the chance to get up close to these majestic creatures, with trips lasting up to two and a half hours, and snacks and drinks often included in the price of the ticket.
7. With its crystalline turquoise waters that stay warm all year round, it is no surprise that the Turks and Caicos are a haven for any number of water sports. Go kayaking, parasailing, windsurfing or paddle-boarding – or if you’re in the mood for some slightly more sedate water-based amusement, choose between sport fishing, bone fishing and bottom fishing. Several restaurants will even cook your catch for you at the end of the day!
8. Pay a visit to ‘Iguana Island’ (aka Little Water Cay), home to the islands’ last remaining population of endangered rock iguanas protected by the Turks and Caicos National Trust. Just a short trip by boat from Providenciales, long boardwalks afford visitors the opportunity to stroll among the picturesque greenery learning more about the wildlife and vegetation, and keeping a keen eye out for the iguanas.
9. Keen golfers looking for a challenge are in luck; one of the top ten golf courses in the Caribbean is located on the island of Providenciales. Designed by Karl Litton and the only 18-hole course in the country, it features natural flora, fauna and plants, serene inland lakes and colourful native birdlife, and welcomes players of all ability levels.
10. With so many deserted islands overflowing with utterly untouched beauty in the vicinity, you won’t want to leave any stone unturned in your explorations of Turks and Caicos; see as much as possible with an island hopping cruise that can incorporate activities such as snorkelling, diving, swimming and of course, sunbathing.
Culture in Turks & Caicos
The unique culture of the Turks and Caicos is influenced by all those who have settled on the island over the centuries, from the descendants of African slaves (known as ‘belongers’) to large communities of ex-patriots from Canada, the United Kingdom, the United States, France, Scandinavia, Haiti and the Dominican Republic. There is a vibrant local art scene, and a number of local crafts are extremely popular in middle Caicos, including basket weaving, plaiting palm leaves for straw hats, net making and weaving baskets and bowls. The islands music is also distinctive: a music called ‘Ripsaw’ is traditional on the island, made with unusual instruments including a saw, goatskin drum and handmade maracas!